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What type of BIM Consultant do you need? Clarifying the roles

In a digital age, Owners know that BIM can mitigate many of the issues that have arisen on past projects. The challenge is understanding how to translate the requirements of the facility and operating teams for building assets into a process that the project team can follow. It’s not as simple as telling the project team to design in BIM.

This is where a BIM consultant comes into play. However, there is considerable confusion around what a BIM consultant does as the term is broadly assigned to a variety of different roles.

This leads to the big question – What roles and skillsets are needed on the project team to ensure the success of a BIM process?

What follows is an attempt to provide some clarity regarding each of the roles required to support a BIM process from Capital Planning through to Facilities Management & Operations (FMO).

1. Owner’s BIM Consultant / BIM Compliance Consultant

The Owner’s BIM Consultant is a knowledge resource who performs overarching, independent quality control to ensure that the established goals and uses for the data are attained.

While this role could be in-house, external BIM consultants – who view the process from the Owner’s perspective – offer a breadth and depth of experience that many organizations don’t have available internally.

An Owner’s BIM Consultant aims to ensure the benefits available from a BIM process from the perspective of those that require a facility not only to be built or renovated but also managed for its entire life. This is achieved through developing BIM Requirements, including a Data and Geometry Specification that supports the overall data goals and uses from Design through to FMO, while also providing support through procurement and selection.

Through the Design phase, the role involves:

  • Providing independent knowledge and expertise relative to the BIM PEP, processes, and protocols being used.
  • Auditing model data to ensure that the quality and robustness of the underlying data is fit for purpose.
  • Using the data to generate reports, including an Asset Registry, that supports the Owner’s QC processes.

During construction, the role of independent knowledge and quality control continues. The Owner + Compliance BIM Consultant:

  • Undertakes many of the managerial tasks mentioned above but focused now on the collection of all data and documents required to support lifecycle requirements.
  • Provides reporting aimed at reducing risk for collected information and model update so that the data set finally delivered represents what has been built.

The final function of the Owner + Compliance BIM Consultant role is to populate the required data drop in the agreed template format at Handover to ensure that this final deliverable represents the entire facility data set, with all models, data, and documents collated and associated, thereby functionally representing the actual built environment.

2. Design BIM Consultant / Manager

The Lead BIM Consultant / Manager is an expert in the BIM process for the design side, implementing BIM Standards and strategizing as to how best to organize the project for improved productivity.

The BIM Consultant/Manager is responsible for:

  • Communicating and collaborating with all consultants to develop and maintain policies, processes, and protocols, recording them in the BIM Project Execution Plan (PEP).
  • Managing data and geometry in accordance with the BIM Requirements, as well as the resolution of all issues found during quality control (QC) audits.

Although the tasks associated with this role are more numerous than as briefly summarized above, the focus is to manage the process for design production, including virtual coordination between all disciplines, with a strong emphasis on QC.

2a. Revit Manager/ Software Manager

An evolution of the role of the CAD Manager, the Revit or Software Manager is responsible for providing:

  • Software knowledge.
  • Production of families for staff use on projects.
  • Responsibility for ensuring software is working and resolving issues.
  • Providing in-house training and support for the team.

This position is crucial to maintaining the productivity of design teams and it is noteworthy that some construction teams also require this role to be filled, typically including management of additional construction-related software.

3. Construction BIM Consultant / Manager / Virtual Design + Construction (VDC)

The Construction BIM Consultant occupies a managerial position similar to the Design BIM Consultant but with a different focus as they build on the Design BIM PEP to support construction methodology.

Functions include maximizing site layout, construction sequencing, supporting on-time delivery, coordinating design and fabrication models, finalizing virtual coordination and managing or coordinating changes to support an accurate record model, and verifying data for layout and installation.

3a. Sub-Trade/ Fabrication BIM Manager

This role is similar to that of Software Manager as described above, but with a focus on turning design intent models into detailed models that support prefabrication through virtual coordination, thus enabling the use of data to drive on-site efficiencies related to installation.

Now that we’ve broken down the roles needed for BIM success across the lifecycle, take a look at how your teams are set up, and how an independent BIM consultant could help you create and manage a robust process to support the facility lifecycle.

BIM Consultant Roles

Geraldine Rayner

Geraldine's passion is helping owner/operators unlock the value of their data. With more the 30 years of experience in the AEC industry, 10 years committed to the direct application of BIM, she has the experience and insight to help our customers access, collect, and leverage the digital data generated through a Building Information Management (BIM) process.

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